Arbiter Online, Boise State University’s independent student media, reported University of Maine Associate Professor Laura Lindenfeld was invited to speak about sustainability with an interdisciplinary research group at Boise State. On May 3, Lindenfeld spoke about bridging the gap between university studies in sustainability and the community.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network and Recharge News reported on the University of Maine’s unveiling Wednesday of a floating platform of VolturnUS, a first-of-its-kind offshore wind turbine. The turbine will be deployed off Maine’s coast at the end of the month and is expected to be the first grid-connected floating wind turbine in North America and the first concrete-composite floating turbine in the world.
The Morning Sentinel reported apple pruning will be the focus of a May 20 workshop in Farmington. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Franklin County is offering the workshop, which will be led by David Fuller, agriculture and nontimber forest products extension professional.
When Mainers hear the term “local seafood,” a few words come to mind more than others — healthy, fresh, good, “Maine” and lobster. But ask those same people what they think when they hear the term “sustainable seafood” and the answers are less clear, varying from “I don’t know” and “nothing” to “it takes a long time to get” and “harvested.”
University of Maine Associate Professor Laura Lindenfeld and doctoral student Brianne Suldovsky, who are affiliated with UMaine’s Department of Communication and Journalism and Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, are conducting a social research project to understand how consumers, especially in inland Maine areas, perceive seafood, and whether they view local and sustainable seafood as important.
The research team, along with Teresa Johnson, assistant professor of marine policy at UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, also hopes to learn what infrastructure exists for Maine’s seafood market, and how communication can be improved between producers, distributors and buyers.
The one-year Seafood Links Project, funded by Maine Sea Grant, focuses on surveys and interviews with consumers, restaurants, culinary schools and grocery stores in the Bangor and Portland areas.
Lindenfeld says the project is targeting the Bangor area and its connections, as well as looking at Portland as a model city supportive of local seafood.
“By comparing the Bangor area with the Portland area, we can look at a city where restaurants and markets are advancing seafood in interesting ways, with a lot of conversation across the industry,” Lindenfeld says. “What could we do in Bangor that would make sense and how could we learn from that experience to transfer that to other inland areas?”
With a large network of people involved in the seafood industry, the researchers decided to focus on looking into the decision-making process at restaurants, culinary schools and grocery stores.
Lindenfeld says it is important to come into the project with an open mind and not presume to know how the network is working and what consumers want. To get a sense of what questions to ask whom, the team started with a round of consumer surveys.
The team found people were interested in the question of where their seafood comes from.
“People said ‘Wow, I’ve never thought of this before. You’re right, we market beef, we market potatoes and vegetables and fruit with an origin, but we don’t talk about where the seafood comes from in our restaurants.’ Why should seafood be treated differently than other kinds of food?” Lindenfeld says.
Lindenfeld and Suldovsky have found the issue of food origin is complicated when it comes to seafood.
“It’s not as simple as this steer came from that farm in The County,” Lindenfeld says.
Suldovsky says from what she has learned of the process, fishermen come to a dock to sell their product to buyers who then send the seafood out to be processed, most of the time to Canada. Packaging then says the seafood came from Canada when it was actually caught in Maine.
“How do you successfully market that or communicate that it’s processed in Canada, but it’s caught in Maine?” Suldovsky asks. “And do consumers even care? To them is Canada the same thing as local?”
The preliminary round of surveys gave the team a look at the public’s perceptions of sustainable seafood, which is seafood that is either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term effects on oceans and the environment.
“There’s just no cohesive understanding or meaning with the word ‘sustainable’ and yet you have grocery stores like Hannaford marketing sustainable seafood because consumers are demanding it,” Suldovsky says.
Lindenfeld stresses the importance of knowing how people feel about terms such as “sustainable” and whether it matters for marketing.
“We may be promoting products in ways that absolutely do not resonate with what people care about most,” Lindenfeld says.
The next set of interviews for the project will include a representative sample of people in Maine’s inland areas that remain underserved as opposed to coastal areas.
Lindenfeld says they hope to understand which terms imply what, and what people value and communicate the findings to the seafood industry.
They also hope these interviews will give them a picture of the network of fishermen, buyers and distributors looks like and how these relationships and communication between them can be improved.
Lindenfeld sees communication within the network, especially in the Bangor area and near coastal communities such as Bar Harbor and Belfast, as a possibility for improvement.
“A lot of people (in the Bangor area) will order from Portland or the midcoast area. Individual trucks will drive up, drop the seafood off once a week and go back down when there are suppliers on the coast right here who may not even know who to talk to,” Lindenfeld says. “So to us it’s this big gap in communication that can be overcome. There’s remarkable resources, there are incredible people, well-meaning people who want to support each other, who care about the state and the region. A little bit of communication research could go a long way.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.381.3747
University of Maine Horticulture Club members and greenhouse management students will be offering hundreds of plants they raised for the annual Black Bear Beauties Plant Sale, May 17–19 on campus.
The sale will be 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 17–18, and 12–4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden, next to the University Credit Union on campus.
Club members describe the Black Bear Beauties as rugged, often native plants suitable for Maine gardens. Students in the Horticulture Club and greenhouse management course grew about 30 plant species, including woody shrubs, herbaceous perennials and herbs in greenhouses on campus.
Horticulture Club President Ryan Urquhart and Vice President Meghan McLain say students recently potted more than 300 plants, and will do the same with more herbs in the final weeks leading up to the sale.
Perennials are ordered in plug trays to guarantee quality. The students grow the plants for two to three months, according to graduate student Shuyang Zhen.
McLain says it is important to order plants from climates similar to Maine, such as Minnesota as opposed to Florida, so they can easily adapt to soil and temperatures in the area.
Popular household herbs, such as basil, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme and cilantro are grown organically from seed.
Herbaceous perennials in 6-inch containers cost $7–$10, herbs are $3 for a pot containing up to four plants. Costs of the woody species plants vary. All come with recommendations for care and suitable growing environments.
The most popular plants last year were purple, aromatic plants, such as lavender; plants that are attractive to butterflies and bees such as anise hyssop; and plants that do well in the shade, such as hostas, says Zhen.
Stephanie Burnett, UMaine associate professor of horticulture, says if people aren’t sure whether they want to purchase plants, they should still visit the Littlefield Gardens in peak season.
“My favorite part about holding the sale is connecting our horticulture program with the Greater Bangor and Orono community. It is wonderful to meet new people — and see people who revisit the sale every year — and to share a love of plants with them,” Burnett says.
Funds raised support student scholarships, the Lyle E. Littlefield Gardens and the Horticulture Club, says Burnett.
Grower of the Year Scholarships — $300, $200 and $100 — are awarded to the three greenhouse management students who grow the highest quality plants throughout the semester.
Upward of $5,000 was raised last year to aid UMaine horticulture and gardens.
For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Stephanie Burnett, 207.581.2937.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.381.3747
The Bangor Daily News, WABI (Channel 5), WLBZ (Channel 2) and WVII (Channel 7) were among several news organizations to report on the University of Maine’s unveiling Wednesday of a floating platform of VolturnUS, a first-of-its-kind offshore wind turbine. The turbine will be deployed off Maine’s coast at the end of the month and will be the first grid-connected floating wind turbine in North America and the first concrete-composite floating turbine in the world, according to Habib Dagher, director of the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. North American Windpower also carried a report.
The Morning Sentinel previewed the upcoming Maple Grading School class that will be offered May 10–11 in Skowhegan. The class is for maple producers, bulk syrup buyers, state inspectors and others who need to grade or judge maple syrup. The school is sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, International Maple Syrup Institute, and Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.
The latest issue of the Penobscot Times included articles on the commencement ceremonies that will be held May 11 at the University of Maine. The articles included tips for attending the ceremonies, such as parking and seating, as well as scheduled speakers and award winners. The issue of the weekly newspaper also included a front-page photo taken during the third annual St. Baldrick’s head shaving event on Maine Day in the Steam Plant Lot on campus. About 70 members of the UMaine community shaved their heads to raise money for children with cancer. UMaine Circle K, a Kiwanis-affiliated college service organization, held the event.
The University of Maine is accepting applications from area middle school students for its Maine Summer Transportation Institute. The free two-week program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 8–19 on the UMaine campus.
The institute is supported by Civil Rights Offices of the Federal Highway Administration and Maine Department of Transportation, along with the UMaine College of Engineering.
As many as 20 students from Greater Bangor will get a close look at engineering and transportation careers during the program designed to introduce students at an early age to jobs available in Maine’s transportation industry.
Activities will focus on electrical, mechanical, chemical and civil engineering as well as physical sciences. Students will participate in field trips, leadership and team-building activities, and workshops with hands-on laboratory experiences in areas related to transportation such as air-flight simulation, wind energy and computer-aided design.
The majority of the activities will take place at the Foster Center for Student Innovation, engineering labs on campus and various off-campus locations. Students also will participate in physical activities at the New Balance Student Recreation Center.
For more information or to request disability accommodations, call Sheila Pendse, 207.581.2225.
Application forms are available online at umaine.edu/msti.
Applications and required documents may be mailed to: MSTI, Dean’s Office, College of Engineering, 213 AMC Building, University of Maine, Orono 04469. Deadline for registration is May 31.
The Bangor Daily News reported the “Historical Atlas of Maine,” a four-part book displaying Maine’s history through maps, photos, art and stories, is the first product of the University of Maine’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Maine Humanities Initiative. The initiative aims to highlight the importance of the state’s economic, cultural and political strengths.